NJIT tribute a welcome homecoming to renowned Newark architect

October 16, 2016


By Steve Strunsky

Before moving to Maplewood and going on to achieve international acclaim as an architect whose designs include the Getty Center in Los Angeles and Spain’s Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, Richard Meier was born in Newark.

Meier’s life and work come full circle this fall with an exhibition of his art and design in Newark at the same time that one of his biggest building projects is underway in the city of his birth.

Meier, who turned 82 on Wednesday, is known for his abstract painting, sculpture and word collage as well as his designs.

His work is the subject of an exhibit at New Jersey Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture and Design, which opened last month and is timed to coincide with Newark’s Open Doors Art Festival.

“This show has a little bit of everything that he’s done,” said Matthew Gosser, the show’s curator, who is also an adjunct professor at the architecture school and an alumnus. “And that shows the students that they don’t have to be locked into one particular discipline.”

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Meier’s current project in Newark is the Teacher’s Village mixed use developmentin an area of downtown Newark along Halsey Street south of Market. The $150-million project includes three charter schools, a daycare center, retail and restaurant space, and multiple apartment towers where teachers are given preference.

The project, now in its residential phase after completion of the three schools, features signature elements of Meier’s design work, including intricate grid-like patterns and the color white. When Meier joined developers from the RBH Group and fellow Newark native Gov. Chris Christie for a groundbreaking in 2012, he called Teachers Village, “more than a homecoming, it is a dream come true.”

A graduate of Columbia High School in Maplewood, known to this day for its progressive art education, and then Cornell University’s School of Architecture, Meier worked for architectural giant Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, then Marcel Breuer, before launching his own practice, Richard Meier & Partners Architects.

Meier, who lives and works in Manhattan, won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the discipline’s highest honor, in 1984. His design of the Getty Center, a museum complex and headquarters of the Getty Foundation, fueled his fame upon its opening in 1997.

Meier maintains a gallery of his work, including architectural models of his buildings, at the Mana Center in Jersey City.

“I believe that architecture has the power to inspire, to elevate the spirit, to feed both the mind and the body. It is for me the most public of the arts,” Meier stateson his firm’s web site.

The NJIT exhibit, “Richard Meier – Newark Architect and Artist” will be open to the public through Nov. 20. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by appointment. The gallery is in Weston Hall, which houses the College of Architecture and Design, at the corner of MLK Boulevard and Warren Street, on the NJIT campus.